I went to get a massage and ended up getting ice cream. Twice.

Ricotta & Panna Cotta gelato at Albero del Gelato
Ricotta & Panna Cotta gelato at Albero del Gelato

I have a rough history with Park Slope.  Last year I went there to rent a bike and ended up getting ice cream instead.  This year I went to go get a massage I bought on Lifebooker - I will spare you the annoying story, but suffice it to say: no massage.  The only thing I could think that would come close to raising my spirits would be ice cream, so I started walking, aiming vaguely for Sky Ice.  And by doing so, I stumbled upon a new - YES, NEW! - ice cream shop that wasn't even on my list guys, called Albero del Gelato.

How did Albero del Gelato escape my radar?  I don't know either.  Cause you know what?  This is the REAL DEAL.  As in, L'Albero is a mini-chain in Lombardi begun in 1985, and this is their American branch, in Park-freaking-Slope, of all places.  In June 2013, husband and wife team Monica and Alessandro Solighetto came to Brooklyn (along with Monica's brother Fabio) to expand their line, bringing with them pastry chef Mauro (they serve an amazing selection of pastries, wines, cheeses, and salumi in addition to the gelati).

I'm in love with everything about them.  First of all - the gelato is made in-house, using local milk from the Seven Stars Farm in Pennsylvania (certo).  Everything is natural and organic, there are no flavorings, dyes, preservatives or artificial additives (naturalmente).  Their website is scrawled with their value on "slow food" - good, clean and fair food. In other words, food that is good for you, good for the environment and fair to the producers.  Sounds amazing so far, right?  Here's the best part:

"Each season has its fruit. Each season has its vegetable. Each season, these fruits and vegetables are turned into gelato!  Each week at L'Albero our master gelato maker, in accordance with what nature is giving us that week, creates new flavors for the week. Some will be sweet, some savory. L'Albero is not your traditional "gelateria"; if eggplant is in season, expect a savory eggplant gelato! If lavender is in season, the master is likely to make a special lavender gelato. Each gelato is a journey and we can never know what the master will make tomorrow."

HOW COOL IS THAT?!  So not only will you find the most unique flavors of gelato (hello, Ice Cream Trend of 2015) but you're guaranteed to have a unique experience every time you go.  When I went, here's what was offered:

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE!?  For the record, since I always choose sweet over savory,  I went with one scoop Ricotta & Amaretto and one scoop Panna Cotta & Raspberry.  It was fabulous.  This place is going on the MUST LIST!

...........................aaaaand......... (because I just can't help myself), I decided to pick up a pint from the BK Larder on the way to the train.

HOW DO I CHOOSE!??!  Banana Caramel Chip??  Goat Milk with Dulce de Leche??  Kill me now.

I don't recall how BK Larder's ice cream crossed my path (Time Out?) but let's start at the top.  Opened in June 2009, BK Larder is a retail cheese and provisions shop specializing in sustainably produced ingredients, hand-crafted cheeses, homemade prepared foods, and hard-to-find grocery items.  It's like, the best deli - EVER.  Additionally, the gelato is actually made in-house.  PS, The staff there is so awesome too.  Since I couldn't decide on which flavor, I asked my usual two questions:  which was the most popular (salted caramel, yawn) and which was this staff member's personal favorite.  She sold me on that immediately:  Budino al Pane.

And when I started asking questions about how the gelato was made, she actually took my email and then Patrick the pastry chef followed up and emailed me the following info:

"We start with our regular base, made with Battenkill Creamery milk & cream (from upstate NY), sugar, dextrose, and salt.  Then we darkly toast Pain de mie bread (side explanation, courtesy of Wikipedia:"la mie" refers specifically to the soft part of bread, called the crumb. In English, pain de mie is most similar to pullman loaf.  This bread has sugar in it, which makes it sweeter than most French breads)and then steep that bread in the milk base. We then strain the bread and toast it again until it dries out and fold that into the spun gelato, for some texture and flavor."

Um, hello.  The result is as if someone made you the most amazing French toast and then bruleed it and then put it in really amazing vanilla gelato.

I devoured it in 2 sittings.  You know I did.

The point is everyone - that I now have THREE destination-worthy ice cream stops in Park Slope and moreover, I want to visit them again and again so they will continue to surprise me.  And you should too!!

I went to the park to bike, and ended up getting ice cream.

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True story. I woke up this weekend to an impossibly blue sky day.  With nothing tangible on the horizon, my mind craved the park, and my body craved exercise - except I had to rule out rollerblading.  Let's just say I never quite learned the art of braking, and so I can't go rollerblading in the park on weekends, in case I. . . um. . . crash into children.  Ya know.  But biking!  How long HAS it been since I rode a bike anyway??  And there's gotta be a bike rental place near Prospect Park, right???

I tried, guys.  The first one was "sold out" (err, what?) and the second one only rented in four-hour increments.  I just wanted to bike for like, half an hour at this point.  Defeated, I decided to head for the subway.  On the way I passed Ample Hills - been there, done that, unfortunately.  But...wait.  Surely there were other nearby places on the Ice Cream list I'd been meaning to try??

BINGO.

Sky Ice has been on my list since The Ice Creaming opened.  Once again, I have no recollection of how or why - probably Time Out, again, let's be honest - but what the hell even was Sky Ice anyway?  Like, an Italian Ice shop?  And why couldn't I find it?  Google had it first listed in Tribeca, then by the Seaport, and now. . . Park Slope?

Their website is (maddeningly) under construction, so it's hard to get a sense of their story (or their location).  Fortunately, foodblog www.foodcurated.com already did some of the investigating for us!  Sweet!  Here's what blogger Liza de Guia writes:

Sutheera Denprapa is the ice cream designer and co-owner ofSky Ice, a small, artisan, all-natural ice cream shop based in Park Slope, Brooklyn.When Sutheera was a young girl, she hoped her parents would one day own an ice cream shop. That was her day dream, her little kid wish. It also tells you just how much she loves the stuff. As her husband, Jonathan explained,“few people are as passionate as Sutheera on ice cream”. I believe it. Get her talking about new flavors she’s inventing, and she could go on and on.

There's also a really sweet and amazing little video here that has Denprapa explaining her story in more detail, about growing up in Thailand and learning the art of making ice cream "without an ice cream maker" from one of her mother's magazines (!!). Those that work the shop speak limited English, so I was unable to ask many questions over the counter, but when I asked:  "Is all the ice cream made here in the store?" the girl behind the counter said yes, and you can actually see this happening in the video.

But by far the coolest thing of this little ice cream shop are the flavors.  Nearly all its reviews on Yelp (landing it a 4.5 star review) commend the exemplary and exotic flavors, such as Black Sesame Seaweed, Lychee Rose, and Thai Tea.  Naturally I had to try the Black Sesame Seaweed out of curiosity - slightly salty with a nutty aftertaste, weird - but in the end I chose 2 scoops:  Roasted Thai Coconut and Banana Nutella.

The Roasted Thai Coconut was fabulous, leaving that awesome just-toasted aftertaste, but the star by far was the Banana Nutella.  I mean, this is the most genious ice cream combination EVER.  WHY has no one thought of this before?!?!  It. Was. Heaven.  I finished my cup before I even got to the subway entrance, a mere 2 blocks away.  So I may not have gotten any exercise for the day, but I had a little adventure all the same.  And I TOTALLY think I won.  :)